Are you as sick as me of seeing “Top 10 XXX of 2014” posts, tweets, blogs, etc… absolutely everywhere? Well if you are then brace yourself because HERE IS ANOTHER ONE!
Top 10 Anime of 2014
I will not make excuses when I say that the sole reason I was even excited about this title before it started airing was because it was an anime adaptation of a popular Weekly Shounen Jump title and it just so happened that the main heroine role was given to my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE JAPANESE VOICE ACTRESS Toyama Nao.
Nisekoi as a series does not try to hide what it is. If you have ever seen a romance comedy with harem elements then you know exactly what you are going to get out of it. I would even go as far as saying that Nisekoi is actively trying it’s best to follow the “Guide to a cliché harem” to the letter, so why was this anime so fun to watch?
I would probably have to credit the author Naoshi Komi for this one because yes, Nisekoi is clichéd and predictable, but what he managed to create was some very appealing and fun characters not only in the way they look but the way they act. The anime in turn managed to properly translate those elements successfully. While the stylistic touches of animation studio SHAFT felt misplaced for a series of this genre in my opinion, there is no denying that Nisekoi is actually a well produced and good-looking anime.
When it comes to characters, you have your generic harem MC #38456123 Raku playing its role, and a barrage of different girls with different personalities so you are bound to find one you like. I would be lying if I said that Toyama Nao’s name and voice does not carry some bias in my judgement of finding Chitoge, the main heroine, to be the most appealing of the bunch for me but hey! At least I admit to it right?
TL;DR: Nisekoi – it’s shit, but it’s FUN!
9. TAMAKO LOVE STORY
If you had told me beforehand that such a damn good movie could come out of such a damn mediocre series like Tamako Market I would have probably laughed in your face. However as KyoAni enthusiast Jeff Goldblum would say: Kyoto Animation did in fact find a way.
Perhaps the only way I could describe how good Tamako Love Story ended up being is by comparing it with its prequel TV anime and how mediocre I found it to be. You see with the exception of a few episode Tamako Market(TV) in my opinion falls in a special abyss of the Slice of Life genre where the comedy did not manage to be that funny, the everyday life did not manage to be that healing, and due to a certain non-human character the interactions between the cast where plain annoying. It took the formula of “a show about nothing” and removed the part that makes the “nothing” fun to watch.
Now we look at Tamako Love Story. While KyoAni is well-known for its high quality TV productions from the get go you can tell a KyoAni movie is on another level. It’s gorgeous to look at. Even better, the most annoying and unfunny character of the TV series takes a backseat and disappear from the screen after 4 minutes. Suddenly the comedy parts started being funny, and the slice of life aspects where fun to watch too! But as the title would suggest, this is a romance movie when it’s all said and done. While the TV series did touch upon the romantic relationship between some of the characters it was never meant to be the main focus. The movie changes this however, and the result is actually surprisingly good.
TL;DR: Tamako Love Story – Greatest love story ever told ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
You want to talk about anime that came in with absolute ZERO expectations from the audience and showed the world that they deserved attention? You have one right here. As is the case with Nisekoi (in fact, this applies to a lot of anime I end up watching) the sole reason I even had this anime on my radar during the Summer season was Toyama Nao’s name being attached to it. Oh BOY am I glad her name led me here though.
How to describe Sabagebu? It’s cruel, it gives absolutely no fucks if it offends you or not, and above all it’s absolutely hilarious. While the cast of characters in Sabagebu are all fun to watch, this is one of the cases where a single star carries a show on her own. Our main heroine, Sonokawa Momoka (Ohashi Ayaka), is that superstar. Throughout the 1st episode and the first half of the 2nd episode, the Momoka we are introduced to is nothing but a ruse, a mere mask hiding the true character that lies beneath it. Once the real Momoka comes out to play Sabagebu as a whole is awakened and it never goes back to sleep.
Momoka might just be one of the biggest scums of the earth, a real villain. She has no regard for anyone but herself, is willing to trample on anyone she knows for her own self-gain, and will even do it all with a smile on her face. However the anime presents it in such a way that you can’t help but love her for being so horrible. The show manages to get away with a lot of rather violent acts merely using the excuse of “this is all happening in their imagination” though at times you start to wonder what is real and what was imagination. It says a lot that in a season where Akame ga Kill was airing, Sabagebu was sometimes more violent and bloody of an anime to watch. Did I mention that this is series is serialized in a shoujo maganize? THE TARGET AUDIENCE IS YOUNG GIRLS!!
Sabagebu looked like a very cheap production, but it accomplished great things with it. There where a few weak episodes in the middle but it concludes the series with a real huge BANG. I would love to see more of the Survival Game Club in the future. Who do I need to shoot to make this happen Japan?
TL;DR: Sabagebu – The best shoujo anime since Cardcaptor Sakura.
7. GEKKAN SHOUJO NOZAKI-KUN
I’ll cut to the chase, the ONLY reason that I ranked Nozaki-kun over Sabagebu on this list is because unlike the latter, Nozaki-kun managed to remain funny on a consistent week-to-week basis. While Sabagebu’s top moments easily overshadow Nozaki-kun’s, it wasn’t able to be that good every week. If you are watching Nozaki-kun you are 100% guaranteed that you will have a fun time.
If Sabagebu was the most hardcore shoujo anime, then Nozaki-kun must be the most sparkly shounen anime. Anyone would look at Nozaki-kun and think to themselves “oh look another romance shouj-” BUT YOU ARE WROOOOONG! Sure the characters look like they came straight out of the “how to draw shoujo style” guidebook but romance isn’t even the strength of this anime. Sure there are enough romantic moments to make your kokoro go doki-doki but above anything else what Nozaki-kun is at its core is a comedy, a damn good one at that.
The characters are all very quirky and their interactions very fun to watch. I must also stop and mention that the main heroine Sakura Chiyo is probably one of the most adorable things to have come out of 2014. Dogakobo makes sure the anime looks crisp at all times as well. There is really nothing about this anime that I would consider was below average. Perhaps Nozaki-kun could show real shoujo series how to do what they do, but better.
As a final note I have to mention that Chiyo’s seiyuu Ozawa Ari put out a performance that would make you believe she was a veteran despite the fact that she is a brand new talent. I want to see her a lot in the future now.
TL;DR: Nozaki-kun – Shounen series shows shoujo authors how to do it RIGHT.
6. LOG HORIZON (season 1)
Though technically this anime started airing in the Fall 2013 season, it was not until 2014 that it ended its run. When Log Horizon first came out the most obvious and obnoxious comments that came out from the anime world was “oh look at this Sword Art Online rip-off”. As the series was given time, Log Horizon flexed it’s storytelling muscles and slowly started to distinguish itself as something that was more than just “a SAO clone”.
While SAO was not the first title to use the “stuck in a game” setting it was definitely the most successful and popular at doing it and turning it into a reference point for any other anime that tries to follow suit with the premise. With that in mind Log Horizon is actually a much different kind of anime and is one that probably not everyone will appreciate.
What makes Log Horizon such a stand out series is not because it displays epic battles against bosses, or a super cool MC that is a hero that saves the day; Log Horizon’s strengths rely completely on the intelligent world building, character development, and careful attention to detail when it comes to what is like to live in a MMO world. You can tell the author is very familiar with the mechanics of the genre and he uses that knowledge to make you feel like the characters really have been thrown inside a game.
While it’s not completely devoid of action sequences and flashy battles, after a while you learn to realize Log Horizon is at it’s best when the characters are engaged in dialogue.
TL;DR: Log Horizon – There’s no use for all your gimmicks, so check this out.
5. SILVER SPOON (season 2)
TOP 5 BOYZ! When I first watched Silver Spoon I thought to myself “Could Arakawa ever put out something as good as Fullmetal Alchemist again?” and by the time the 2nd season had ended airing my answer to that question was “Hell yes she can”.
Being a sequel, I knew already what I was getting myself into. After season 1’s constant attempts at making me feel bad about the meat I was consuming on a daily basis I was actually a bit happier season 2 did not head in that direction. In its stead, season 2 was a lot more focused on the various goals and objectives the characters wanted to achieve.
Without spoiling anything, the second season was actually a pretty depressing thing to watch at times. It’s not afraid of showing you how harsh reality can be even if it feels like it’s completely unfair. However if life gives you lemons, you go ahead and make the damn best lemonade you possibly can. I hope we can get a 3rd season sometime in the future. I am waiting.
TL;DR: Silver Spoon – Life fucking sucks.
4. NAGI NO ASUKARA
When it comes to anime with Okada Mari involved there are always only 2 possible outcomes. I either think they are amazing, or I think they are awful. In the case of Nagi no Asukara, it ended up being the former.
While this anime started airing back in the Fall of 2013, and it finished airing in April, I actually never watched it while it was airing. I actually watched this anime last month because I had promised a friend that I would. Boy do I regret not doing it back when it came out.
Okada Mari is often known for being a writer that tends to be over dramatic and sometimes exaggerated when it comes to emotions. However in the case of Nagiasu it really did not feel that way. Yes there was drama, but the way the cast handled it seemed very believable to their characters and did not feel out of place of exaggerated at all in my eyes. There was some very well crafted and written character development too. Prime example being the main character Hikari, he starts off as rude, unreasonable, and just overall unlikable. In a lot of other anime a character that acted like Hikari did at the start of Nagiasu would have permanently been written on my blacklist of intolerable douchebags. As the series went on though, Hikari’s character slowly but surely won me over to the point where by the start of the 2nd half he had become my favourite character. Well played.
While Hikari stole the spotlight in my opinion, that does not mean the rest of the cast where uninteresting either. Every character in this anime contributed in one way or another and many of them had their own individual conflicts and struggles that the show managed to patch up by the end. There was not only very strong characters keeping the show entertaining, the actual story was also very solid and intriguing until the very end. Nagiasu was just very well executed in every front. Also it featured some really damn good OP songs by Ray.
TL;DR: Nagiasu – Actual GOOD Okada Mari anime
3. HUNTER x HUNTER (2011)
As far as battle shounen series go, I give it to Togashi because Hunter x Hunter is really up there with Fullmetal Alchemist as some of the most well written stories in the genre I’ve seen so far. Hunter x Hunter not only had some very good action as it should for it’s genre, I would arguably say that some of the best moments in the entire series are the more cerebral situations that the characters experienced. The anime was more than just good vs evil punching each other, there was some stand out character development and genuinely touching emotional moments throughout it’s run.
It is to be expected from long running series that at some points it wasn’t as exciting of entertaining as it could be but said moments can be easily overlooked because of just how brilliant Hunter x Hunter was during it’s high points. It’s almost unfair how good of an adaptation this manga received because would love to see A LOT of other good manga be shown the love and care this anime got.
TL;DR: HxH – Will we ever smile again?
2. LOVE LIVE! SCHOOL IDOL PROJECT (season 2)
As you read this, Love Live is currently making disgusting amounts of $$$$ RIGHT NOW.
Most of the time anime is produced in hopes giving more exposure to a franchise and increase its reach and popularity amongst the masses. In that regard Love Live is probably one of the most incredible success stories in the history of anime.
I could sit here forever and tell you how popular Love Live is right now, but I’m here to tell you why the 2nd season of this anime was so damn good in my eyes. First we start with the tone of the series. Season one spent a good 8 episodes out of 13 to introduce us to the characters and members of µ’s and give us some singing and dancing as a topping. As we no longer need to introduce new characters, the 2nd season focused solely on deepening the friendship of the girls and spending their time together as they would inevitably be forced to part ways due to the setting of it being a high school and them having members in their final year of studies.
While the series keeps a very positive tone for as long as possible, by the time their time starts to run out and they are forced to accept the fate of the departing members; the second season starts to hit you like a truck. The time the anime spends trying to make you get attached as much as you can to the cast pays off HUGE in the final couple of episodes. The graduation of the senior members is very emotional and the anime does a beautiful job of showing that to you. When I first got into this series I never would have imagined an idol show could make people cry.
TL;DR: Love Live stole my wallet but I’m not complaining
1. YUUKI YUUNA WA YUUSHA DE ARU
Up until halfway through the fall season I was almost confident that Love Live would be my top anime of 2014. However if Sabagebu was an anime that came out of nowhere and ended up surprising people, then Yuuki Yuuna basically was the kid that kept posting “guys I’m gonna be big” on the internet over and over only to be ignored by everyone. Then suddenly he shoots up an entire school and now the whole world learned of his name.
That might have been a bit extreme for a comparison but it’s exactly what this anime was like. It was one of the least watched anime of the season by the time it started airing, it aired a week late so many people didn’t even know about it until much later in the season, and even when it started airing and some people where watching it wasn’t until more than half way through it’s run that the real buzz about the anime started to spread around.
A lot of careful planning went into making this anime, it shows. There are so many things in the early episodes that at first glance they seem mundane or non important but later on you learn of just how important they really were. I haven’t seen a lot of anime that at the end of it’s run can make you look back at the earlier episodes and actually enhance the value of them as successfully as this one. It’s not only the planning of the plot that impressed me about this anime, the characters as well were very likeable and the show tries it’s best to make you want to like them.
When Yuuki Yuuna’s real intentions come out in the open, it hits you as hard as it possibly can. You might want to leave your seat and get off the wild ride, but by the time you realized what you got yourself into the brakes on that wild ride have already been broken and there is NO getting off. To say the latter half of the anime is incredibly emotional and depressing is an understatement as it pulls no punches when it comes to trying to get a reaction out of you. It managed to work on me very successfully at least.
Here is basically how my ride with this anime went per episode:
- Wow I was not expecting this turn of events, this Yuna girl is pretty badass though.
- Wow this Tougou girl is very strong, why so many weapons though?
- This Karin girl…she’s gonna die isn’t she?
- Death flags, death flags EVERYWHERE!
- WOW THIS WAS AS INTENSE AS A SERIES FINALE, also no one died yay!
- That was a good epilogue for this ani- WAIT THERE ARE 6 MORE EPISODES!?
- This is slice of life so WHY AM I FEELING SO TENSE?
- NO NO NO NO NO NO
- I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS ;___;
- IT ALL KEEPS TUMBLING DOWN, TUMBLING DOWN, TUMBLING DOWN
- KARIN WHYYYYYYY, PLEASE SAVE US YUUNA ;____;
- I AM FUCKING HEALED!
While the anime is very capable of standing on it’s own, this is actually a multimedia project. There are manga, light novels, visual novels, games, etc… While some are adaptations of existing content, some things like the visual novel, and light novel serve as complimentary material that actually helps expand and enhance the experience of the anime even further. I highly recommend you check it out.
It was a hell of a ride Yuuki Yuuna, and sometimes I wanted to get off. After everything was said and done though, now all I can think about is when I can get on this ride again.
TL;DR: Yuuki Yuuna – AOTY
Did you enjoy my list? If you did let me know! If you didn’t, also let me know. Be warned though, you might make me sad.